Tuesday, August 24, 2010

VHS Is Dead

This newsletter often talks about new or emerging technologies. Perhaps it is time to note the death of another technology that nearly all of us have used in the past.
In case you haven't heard, VHS videotape is dead.
Nobody manufactures VHS videotapes anymore. The major chain stores, such as Wal-Mart and Best Buy, stopped selling VHS recorders and players some years ago. Not long after, the manufacturers of videotapes stopped manufacturing them, due to a lack of sales outlets and a lack of sales.
The same companies stopped manufacturing VHS video recorders as well. The reason was the same: declining sales. However, several manufacturers still produce combination VHS and DVD recorders, designed to copy your old VHS tapes to modern CD or DVD disks.
In October, what is believed to be the final truckload of VHS tapes rolled out of a Palm Harbor, Florida, warehouse. You may find videotapes in stock in various stores for several more months, but there are no more VHS tapes left in the supply chain. Wal-Mart and other major department store chains stopped selling VHS videotapes a few years ago although you might still find some for sale at the Dollar Store, convenience stores, and at truck stops across the country. Be aware that these videotapes are for sale "as long as supplies last." The wholesalers have since moved on to other products, so retail sales will soon dry up.
What does this mean if you have a stash of old family videos on VHS tapes? Well, there is no emergency as the VHS-to-DVD copiers will probably be around for a few more years. VHS tapes all deteriorate slowly over time, but they will probably still be playable for another ten years or so, assuming you can find a VHS player. The problem is that the analog video signals stored on VHS slowly deteriorate, something the engineers refer to as "noise." If you copy a tape to CD today, the result will probably be good. You will probably obtain a clear video.
The problem arises when you procrastinate. Every year, a bit more noise will be introduced to every VHS video tape in your library. The result will not be dramatic if you wait a year or two. However, if you wait 5 or 10 or 20 years, the result is cumulative: every year you procrastinate will result in more and more noise introduced to the tapes. Copying a VHS video tape to DVD twenty years from now will result in a much "noisier" video than copying the same tape today.
Unlike the analog VHS videotapes, DVD disks are digital and do not suffer from video degradation with the passage of time. There may still be an issue of finding suitable DVD players some years from now, but the signals on DVD disks should still be playable for many years.
DVD disks do not last forever, however. The disks themselves will suffer from some internal chemical changes and will deteriorate for different reasons than those of VHS tapes. Even so, the life expectancy of a DVD disk is significantly longer than that of a VHS videotape. When copied, the video on a DVD disk will not have induced noise like a VHS videotape.
While not perfect, engineers agree that DVD disks last a lot longer than do VHS videotapes. The signals stored on that disk twenty years from now will be much clearer and have much less induced "noise" than the same video stored on VHS videotape. By that time we all will be copying to Blu-Ray disks or perhaps to some other as yet unknown technology that will eventually replace Blu-Ray.
Do you have old family videos stored on VHS? The time to copy them to DVD is NOW.
Preserving old videos is about the same as preserving old digital data: it is easy to do as long as you make sure that you do not wait too long. Always copy your old files and videos to new technologies as soon as it is cost-effective to do so.
I'd suggest that the time is now.
Give Home Video Studio-Visalia a call, we can take care of your videotape "problem" professionally, efficiently and courteously!  559-732-3050 or 866-993-8348 

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Video Productions - A Great Way to Be Seen

Lights, Camera, Action!
Whether it's your corporate message or your family's memories Home Video Studio provides production services for a variety of applications. On the corporate side we can produce excellent videos for trade shows and expos, corporate image videos, training sessions, sales presentations and other events. On the personal side we can capture special events such as weddings, anniversaries, graduations, recitals and award ceremonies.
The first step in your production is conception. This is where we will answer questions like these:
Who is the audience that will view this video?
What is the objective of this video?
What message is the video to convey?
What is my budget?
How many copies will I need?
The next step is shooting the event. With experience, training and the latest in digital cameras, lighting and audio equipment Home Video Studio will get just the right shots with the best quality.
Once your event is captured on video the fun really starts! Using the leading edge editing system we can take your event to the next level with special effects like wipes, dissolves, split screens and slow motion. We can also add voiceover and sound effects - whatever you can imagine we can do!

The last step in your masterpiece is putting it on the media you choose. Will it be on a DVD? The look and navigation features of a DVD is nearly as important as the program itself. Graphics, menus, special bonus features - it's all available to you. Will your production go on the internet? Videos are an integral part of any website these days - not to mention Facebook and YouTube. You will probably want versions for every media available.

Once your project is complete you will have a professional video with a message that will be able to be seen in multiple places! Whether it's business or pleasure, we offer video production services for everyone, with every need to be seen anywhere you choose! Call Home Video Studio today at 866-993-8348!

Video marketing for Realtors

Video marketing for Realtors has quickly become the rule rather than the exception. The virtual tour, so popular in the real estate market of the last decade, is now considered passé. The ever-increasing number of consumers with access to streaming video 24/7 has made video in high demand. If you’re not already convinced it’s time to make the move to video for all your real estate listing needs, you will be after reading this list!

The Top 7 Reasons Realtors Need Video Marketing

1. Your viewers need to feel a connection with the property.
You provoke a more emotional response from viewers by setting the tone with music and narration – effectively telling a story with each property that your viewers can connect with. You can highlight the surrounding neighborhood, nearby schools, parks and even attractions in the city it’s located in.

2. The use of online video is growing at an incredible 40% per year.
One study has shown that visitors stay at websites that contain video 78% longer than those without video! Certainly, grabbing and keeping viewers attention is paramount to gaining new clients and converting leads to sales.

3. Video is interactive.
Home buyers can search for videos with specific keywords, fast-forward through them, pause them, and rewind them. They can share them with friends and family via email, social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, even put your videos on their own sites, creating internet awareness for you.

4. Video marketing of your properties will set you apart from your competitors.
Utilizing cutting-edge technology and internet marketing savvy will show your clients and prospective clients that you’re current and staying on top of trends.

5. Your clients will love it!
Not only will they realize you’re putting forth maximum effort to showcase their property, they’ll tell their friends, spreading the word about you!

6. High-end Properties Deserve the Best Marketing!
Buyers and sellers of high-end properties especially, will expect and deserve nothing less than the most up-to-date marketing tools available. They know the importance of making the best first impression possible and will accept nothing less than the best from their real estate agent.

7. Video is more affordable than ever.
Do-it-yourselfers can purchase a decent digital video camera for around $200. Editing software runs the gamut from free to several hundred dollars. Filming and editing does take time and skill, however. For more professional, polished video, call us today at 559-732-3050. We’d love to talk to you about your needs!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The 180 Degree Rule

In video production, every time you break the rules, you take the viewer outside of the viewing experience to puzzle over what just happened instead of simply enjoying the story.

The master producers follow an established set of rules for a reason - to move the story along in a logical way that won't confuse the viewer. There are many things that we "know" about movies simply from having seen lots of them. We "know" for example that when the camera pans across a vast expanse of city and zooms in on a sign on a building that says International Widget, that the action that takes place after the cut is happening at International Widget. There are a number of rules we all know subconsciously even if we've never been told them. The 180 degree rule is one of them. The rule states simply that when filming (or videotaping) two elements (people, cars, armies, sports), the camera should stay within a 180 degree field and not "cross the line".
Establishing a Map
Viewers map out the logistics of a scene in their heads, we take subtle clues from the screen and use them to build a visual representation of the spacial relation of the objects we're seeing.
Close your eyes and see if you can imagine the layout of the Brady Bunch house or another building from fictional television, do you know which rooms are to the left or right of others? Chances are you do, even if the actual sets aren't anywhere near one another, because the movie makers have spent some time trying to make you comfortable and let your mind interpret a reasonable geography. The 180 degree rule is one of those things that keeps viewers comfortable by establishing where people are in a scene, including the viewer.

Let's imagine a very simple scene two people sitting across from one another at a coffee shop, having a conversation. The 180 degree rule tells us that one person should always be facing camera left and the other should always be facing camera right. This is a visual clue as to who's talking. Imagine if close ups showed both of the characters looking to camera right the immediate visual assumption would be that they were talking to someone else, off camera.
Now think of something where direction is very critical a football game. The Sharks are trying to get the ball to the right of the screen, the Jets are trying to get the ball to the left of the screen. When you see someone running in one direction or the other, you automatically know which team they're on regardless of whether you can see their face or remember what colors they're wearing.
The 180-degree rule is important even in scenes that have a single person - imagine a character saying "I'm going to the store" - we cut to a shot of her walking right to left and then cut to a shot of her walking left to right - the implication is that she's headed back, she's either been to the store, or forgotten her car keys. Simply deciding where to put the camera has given us a shortcut - we don't need a store, cutting back and forth tells the viewer that they've been there.

But I Really Really Need to Get My Camera on the Other Side

Sometimes, for whatever reason, your camera really needs to cross that line, maybe to reveal something to one side of your talent or even to hide it. Imagine you've spent all morning shooting two people sitting at a table in the park having a conversation, one always looking right, the other looking left. You go to lunch and upon your return discover that a gigantic band of scene stealing protesters waving "down with widgets!" signs have taken up in the park right behind your actors. You need to move the camera to the other side to keep them out of the shot. Luckily, this isn't a problem - you can cross the line if you put a "neutral shot" in between - a neutral shot is one from head on that is neither right nor left. So you do a closeup of one of your actors, then, bang, you can cut to the other side and your audience won't become dizzy or terribly confused. The neutral shot serves to wipe off the memory map they've drawn.
Can You Break the 180 Degree Rule?
Like any rule, the 180 degree rule can be broken, but like many rules, it's there for a reason and you shouldn't go crossing it willy nilly. What's a good reason? One is to confuse the audience. Imagine our heroine is being hunted by a dangerous and deadly spy. We show her walking left to right - and wait! We cut to the spy, walking right to left! Our brains understand this to mean that they're on a collision course! We cut back and forth, our heroine walking obliviously, stopping to pick up an Evansville Times Picayune, stopping to smell the flowers, petting dogs. The spy, still walking right to left sees something, he walks more quickly! Catastrophe is at hand! But now we zoom out to reveal, the Eiffel Tower. The dangerous spy isn't even on the same continent! Our heroine is (for the moment) safe. We've fooled the viewers by violating the 180 degree rule.
Your Visual Vocabulary
The 180 degree rule is something we all understand subconsciously - we know when it's wrong, but maybe not why. Recognizing what it is and being aware of it will keep you from making a simple mistake that would puzzle and unsettle your audience. Add it to your visual vocabulary, be aware when it's used or not used in movies and TV.
Sidebar 1: Drawing it out
Hollywood directors hire someone months before shooting to draw out how every shot will look including the frame lines and the direction things will be moving in. This process is called "storyboarding". It's done because it's very expensive for a director to be on the set trying to figure out where to put the camera while thirty union employees stand around looking at one another waiting for him to make up his mind. Independent videographers usually do most of their storyboarding in their heads, but as an exercise, draw up a diagram showing the locations of characters, and then draw a line through it then look at the places you can put your camera.

Sidebar 2: The 30 Degree Rule: 180's Companion

Can you move your camera anywhere in that 180 degrees? Yes. Up, down, left and right, like half of a grapefruit. But keep in mind the corollary to the 180 degree rule, which is the 30 degree rule. This tells us how far we must move the camera to avoid a jump cut. Jump cuts also jar the audience by breaking a visual sense of propriety. Though they're very often used stylistically, to give the impression, for example, that the footage is "documentary" and not staged. Makes you wonder if you should keep a protractor in your camera bag, doesn't it?

Award winning videos on DVD

The Oscar. The Emmy. The Tony. The Grammy. All bring to mind a highly coveted award given to acknowledge excellence and craftsmanship. Did you know there is an international award for video services? It's The Hanley! Affectionately named after Home Video Studio's Founder and President, Robert Hanley, the Hanley Award is given to those who earn the title of "best of the best."
Every year around this time we submit video entries (maybe some work we did for you) to be judged by a panel of experts in thirty-three separate categories of video production, including Best Photo Keepsake Video, Best Event video, Best Use of Film Transfer, Best Sport Scholarship Video, Best Memorial Video, Best Use of Music, and Best of Show. Then, on the last evening of Home Video Studio's Annual Getaway in Las Vegas, we attend the Hanley Awards Gala in hopes that we will hear our name called and see our work highlighted.

The competition is tough. The requirements are stringent. The trophy is impressive. But the real value of the Hanley is summed up by its namesake, Robert Hanley: "The value to our studios and ultimately their customers lies in the process of entering and competing. In our industry one thing is certain - video technology is always evolving. With video on computers, cell phones, digital screens and the Internet, it is essential to keep up with it all! And the best way to keep sharp and up-to-date is with a little friendly competition among our colleagues."

Whether you have video tape that needs to be transferred to DVD, 8mm and 16mm film that needs transfering to DVD, Photokeepsakes, Sports Scholarship Videos or the many other services we provide rest assured your project is in the hands of the industry's best - perhaps even a Hanley winner.